Happy World Vegan Day, my beautiful souls! Yes, November 1st marks the international holiday for all animal lovers and plant eaters to rejoice in this lifestyle and appreciate the positivity of its core message. Even if you’re not a vegan, it is totally acceptable to celebrate by learning more about veganism and enjoying vegan food!
Personally, I wouldn’t say that I never pictured myself as a vegan, but never in a million years would I ever think that I’d start this early. What’s mystifying is that I used to think that veganism was a middle-aged movement that only comes with an “older enlightenment” that turned people into hippies–the exception being if you were a child raised by vegan parents. But as I grew older and immersed myself in health and fitness, people saw me as a hippie, almost to the point where I viewed myself the same way. Eating healthily and exercising regularly is still seen as a foreign path. I couldn’t imagine choosing veganism, a lifestyle that I thought would restrict me even further from food, social events and more.
I used to be in a position where I didn’t fully understand it. Let’s be real. I’m still learning a lot about aspects of veganism that I have yet to know more about, such as the honey industry, the clothing industry, the beauty industry, etc. But the most important lesson about veganism ensuring that I will stay with it for as long as I wish, is that you ultimately have to do the best that you can. Everyone’s best looks different, but as long as you are spreading this message and living as compassionately as possible for your abilities, that is all that matters.
So now that I consider myself a plant-based vegan, there’s quite a lot that has changed about the blog and myself. You all know who I was before choosing this lifestyle, but what has happened to me since the transition? Truthfully, the changes that veganism has brought to me has all been for the better. I don’t think I can picture where I would possibly be if I did not make the transition, and I am and will always be so grateful for discovering it. Below are several ways that veganism has transformed my life.
- Expanding my social circle. Initially, I did not have any vegan buddies to eat with, cook with, or communicate with about this lifestyle. In fact, I originally believed that veganism would hinder me from making new friends because I’d be following a lifestyle that is foreign to the majority. Once I started opening up about my transition, I was quite shocked to hear how curious and open-minded others were about veganism. I soon found that most people actually want to make better choices for the animals, the environment and their health, but they just do not know where to start. Also, making new vegan friends at meetups and festivals gave me so much motivation to keep going in my transition, especially during times where I feared that my cravings and self-doubt would get the best of me.
- Accepting all points of view. Here’s a story: when I posted my stance on honey on the Vegan Amino app, I got overwhelmingly mixed responses. Many people were so understanding and even relieved because they could relate. However, there were plenty of others who were offended because I revealed that I still consume honey if it’s in a product I purchase. With this mix of perspectives, I researched more on this subject matter and learned so much, and I realized that every point has some kind of validity. Instead of shutting out anybody who begs to differ, I try to put myself in that person’s shoes. Obviously, I shrug off the haters who only spew out ridiculously abusive comments that provide no value. However, knowing that every person I come across has his or her own vegan journey, I listen to them with an open ear. Whether people successfully found veganism through aggression or compassion, it is already enough that they have chosen this lifestyle, so as long as they use positive and effective advocacy to spread its messages.
- Subtle changes to my body. Unlike statistics and others’ stories, I haven’t lost or gained any weight from adopting a plant-based diet, plus I wasn’t looking to change my body weight drastically. But alternatively, I found that other parts of my physical appearance and physiological functions started morphing themselves as I began eliminating animal-based products. Before I started my vegan transition, I always had generally pale skin, somewhat delayed digestion, brittle nails, unpleasant post-workout body odor and irregular energy levels. But as of now, my skin’s complexion is more rosy (also due to more sunlight exposure), my digestion functions properly, my nails actually have strength, my sweat doesn’t smell as much, and my energy feels more powerful and weightless. Of course, physical symptoms are different for every individual, so please do not take my word for completely positive changes.
- Finding and spreading positivity in the most unexpected places. Adopting lifestyle and diet behaviors revolving around veganism has not only enabled me to find joy and optimism in every aspect of my environment, but also find them within myself to share with the world around me. Appreciating honey bees swarming around flowers and exchanging smiles and laughs with classmates or even strangers in downtown are just two of many examples of how I’ve started exulting just for the sake of it more often, even if I’m in the middle of the streets in the freezing cold rain (and speaking of which, I’ve learned to appreciate more too!).
- Connection with the Earth. A cliche, I know, but I had to include it for a reason. Opening my conscious mind to veganism ultimately led my subconscious mind to question our humanity as a species. How do we fit into the ecosystem? Are we truly using Earth’s tools to our evolutionary advantage with industries that erode the land, kill our animals, neglect other countries and eat away our natural resources? That’s not to say that I’ve grown to dislike humankind, despite the many horrible mistakes that our ancestors are notorious for in the past. According to history, humans are capable of so much consciousness, intelligence, love, wisdom, and innovation that can actually improve the functions of our planet. We know how to grow more plants, breed new crops, develop new resources out of waste and invent beneficial technologies. The only problem is that our current situations do not provide those benefits. A statement that is more accurate is that my hope in humanity and my love for the Earth have grown with veganism. More people are gaining awareness and showing curiosity in benefitting the common good. Veganism is just not about the abstinence of animal products in one’s daily usage, but it is about imposing the least amount of harm in general. The latter is within all of us, especially since there is so much chaos occurring where we are and elsewhere. Every individual can do and exude goodness. Becoming vegan is one step that I have taken into the most positive direction for myself.
- A higher level of spiritual growth. In all honesty, with this education about the treatment of our planet and animals came a sense of enlightenment. I am not putting myself on any pedestal or boasting that I am now this spiritually awakened being because I came to this realization and connection–like I said before, I still have so much to learn. I still make terrible judgments, I still have outlashes, I still have crappy days, and I still express selfishness just like we all do. However, the knowledge that I have gained from veganism simply produced a yearning for something more meaningful than the superficialities of our culture. I no longer enjoy “small talk” but instead aim for emotional connections and hour-long conversations. I dream of memorable experiences and relationships rather than materialistic objects. What I search for are smiles, tears of joy, laughter that lasts so long that it’s painful, and hugs that bring warmth and depth into my soul. Knowing that how I live out my life saves so many lives and resources all while illustrating compassion and care has brought me that much closer to my inner soul. And I could not feel happier.
Just as a last disclaimer, World Vegan Day is not exclusive to only vegans and plant-based eaters. Vegetarians, omnivores and others alike can exult in veganism simply by carrying an open mind. Choose a plant-based dish instead of an animal-based entree. Make an environmentally-friendly change by using less trash, water or energy. Learn about new facts regarding veganism and possibly consider making some small or big changes. Even share a smile with someone and bask in nature. Today is a day of love–love to the Earth, to yourself, to life. Don’t forget to celebrate. ❤️🌎
How do you choose to celebrate World Vegan Day?